They refuse to abdicate. Belarusian opposition supporters took to the streets on Sunday (November 15th) for a new demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko amid anger over the death of an opponent who had been arrested by the police.
Law enforcement began to disperse the protest in Minsk almost immediately after it began at noon, including using stun grenades and tear gas, according to local media, which released videos showing hooded men chasing a group of people on an avenue.
According to Belarusian human rights organization Viasna, at least 388 people were arrested by police, including two journalists. On social networks, Belarusian users have reported scuffles with riot police in some courtyards of buildings, with photos.
“Lukashenko used gas, grenades and guns against the protesters. Lots of injured. Devastated “, reacted on Twitter the figurehead of the opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, refugee in Lithuania. Before the demonstration, about fifteen metro stations had been closed and the mobile network was experiencing cuts, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse.
This demonstration follows that of Friday, when thousands of people protested in tribute to an opponent who died after his arrest in this country shaken by a wave of protest unprecedented since the controversial presidential election of August 9.
A heavier balance sheet
Roman Bondarenko, 31, was arrested by police on Wednesday after an altercation between residents and masked men who removed red and white ribbons, the colors of the opposition, hung in a building courtyard in Minsk. Suffering from brain damage, he died the next day in a hospital, amid heavy suspicions of beatings during his detention.
Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a refugee in Lithuania, had called for a tribute to a “Man who was killed because he wanted to live in a free country”. President Alexander Lukashenko offered condolences on Friday and ordered an investigation “Honest and objective” on the circumstances of Roman Bondarenko’s death.
Since the start of the protest, at least four people have died during protests or after their arrest, but other suspicious deaths point to a heavier toll.
Thousands of demonstrators have also been arrested since the beginning of the movement and dozens of them have denounced torture during their detention.
Supported by Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko refuses to leave power and only mentioned vague constitutional reforms in an attempt to calm the protest.